Narendra Kusnur's music musings …


A still from the ‘Ek Villain’ song ‘Galliyan’

SINCE it’s an appropriate time to write a year-end special, I was wondering which genre to choose. And considering that the only blog I wrote on new Hindi film music this year was a review of the ‘Haider’ soundtrack, I decided to use that as a theme for the year-ender.

Actually, there were hardly any positive trends to write about. Overall, 2014 was such a dismal year for new Hindi film music, and barring ‘Haider’ and ‘Finding Fanny’, most movies didn’t have a set of consistent songs.

Yes, some of them, like ‘Ek Villain’, ‘Citylights’, ‘Queen’, ‘PK’, ‘Happy Ending’ and ‘2 States’, had one or may be two outstanding songs, but that was it. Others, like ‘Gunday’, ‘Happy New Year’, ‘Kick’ and ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’, had a couple of commercial hits, and nothing more. ‘Khamoshiyan’, released at the fag end of the year with four music directors (Jeet Ganguli, Ankit Tiwari, Bobby-Imran and Naved Jafar), seems to have the right punch on initial listening. But one can gauge its commercial impact only next month.

How much of the new music was really memorable? How many movies had songs that we could still hum in the coming year? Hardly anything. In 2013, we heard some outstanding work in ‘Aashiqui 2’, ‘Lootera’, ‘Kai Po Che’ and ‘Raanjhana’, with ‘Aashiqui 2’ attracting both the masses and the classes, bagging six Global Indian Music Academy (GIMA) awards. In 2014, ‘Haider’ and ‘Finding Fanny’ had some neat numbers, but these again catered to a limited audience.

Even from the performers’ point of view, A R Rahman had only a couple of films like ‘Highway’, ‘Lekar Hum Deewana Dil’ and the Hindi version of ‘Kochadaiyaan’, though none of them matched his past work. Rising star Amit Trivedi only came up with ‘Queen’, and the music directors who were somewhat prolific included Jeet Gangulii and Mithoon, with Vishal Bhardwaj, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Vishal-Shekhar producing some good fare.

Among the singers, the year cemented Arijit Singh’s position as a leading male voice, whereas Armaan Malik showed promise as a newcomer, with ‘Auliya’ in ‘Ungli’. Of the female singers, Shreya Ghoshal continued to rock, and Kanika Khanna had a couple of uptempo hits like ‘Baby doll’ (‘Ragini MMS 2’) and ‘Lovely’ (‘Happy New Year’).

Lyricist Gulzar was reasonably prolific with ‘Haider’, ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ and ‘Kill Dil’, but Javed Akhtar was nowhere to be heard and Swanand Kirkire was selective. Irshad Kamil and Amitabh Bhattacharya produced some decent stuff, and newcomer Rashmi Singh shone in the few tracks she wrote.

Yet, the average quality of music was nothing to talk about. In fact, one hopes the Bhatt production ‘Khamoshiyan’ sets the mood for some melodic music in the coming year, in which one is also looking forward to Amit Trivedi’s music in Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Bombay Velvet’.

In such a scenario, it was obviously difficult to prepare a list of top 10 movie soundtracks. Hence, I have stuck to 10 most appealing songs, which again, is this blogger’s personal opinion, and not based on any public surveys or amount of commercial success.

For a more balanced view, I have stuck to one song per film. Some hits like ‘Tune maari entriyaan’ (‘Gunday’), ‘Baby doll’ (‘Ragini MMS 2’) and ‘Saturday Saturday’ (‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’) don’t feature in this list, though popular with the masses, because they were temporary fads at best.

1 Galliyan – Ek Villain: This song was another boost for composer and singer Ankit Tiwari, who hit the headlines last year with ‘Sun raha hai na tu’ in ‘Aashiqui 2’. An unplugged version was sung by him and Shraddha Kapoor. Both versions were penned by Manoj Muntashir.

2 Muskurane – Citylights: Composed by Jeet Ganguli and sung by Arijit Singh, this keyboard-driven song was somewhat underrated, but extremely melodious. Lyrics were by the promising Rashmi Singh.

3 Bismil – Haider: Vishal Bhardwaj’s music in ‘Haider’ had many good songs, including Gulzar’s ‘Aao na’, ‘Jhelum’ and ‘Khul kabhi’ and the Faiz Ahmed Faiz-penned ‘Gulon mein rang bhare’ and ‘Aaj ke naam’. But it was Gulzar’s ‘Bismil’, sung by Sukhwinder, which stood out, with its distinct Kashmiri folk aura and peppy beat.

4 Manwa laage – Happy New Year: Shreya Ghoshal and Arijit shine on this Vishal-Shekhar tune, written by Irshad Kamil in the Shah Rukh starrer. A folksy touch and some neat arrangements give this number a boost.

5 Fanny re – Finding Fanny: This one sung by Mukhtiyar Ali and composed by Matthias Duplessey had a catchy tune and neat arrangements, even though the singer went ‘off’ somewhere in the middle.

6 Harjaaiyan – Queen: Singer Nandini Srikar, who once sang ‘Bhare naina’ in ‘Ra.One’ has a clear winner in this song, composed by Amit Trivedi and written by Anvita Dutt in the film ‘Queen’. The voice sparkles here.

7 Chaar kadam – PK: Singer Shaan teams up with Shreya in this catchy ditty. Composed by Shantanu Moitra and written by Swanand Kirkire, it has a nice sing-along feel.

8 Auliya – Ungli: A simple pop song with a Sufiana influence, composed by Salim-Sulaiman, written by Amitabh Bhattacharya and sung by Armaan Malik. A good boost for Armaan.

9 Khamoshiyan – Khamoshiyan: This Jeet Ganguli song written by Rashmi Singh and sung by Arijit just made it to the list, as it was released in second half of December. It’s the kind of song that will grow after a few listens, and will hopefully be a success in 2015.

10 Patakha guddi – Highway: To pep up the tempo a bit, we conclude with this Rahman tune, sung by Sultana and Jyoti Nooran and written by Irshad Kamil has a neat Sufiana influence and soulful singing.

PS: Apologies to fans of Yo Yo Honey Singh, who may complain that this list was prepared under the influence of ‘Chaar botal vodka’.


Comments on: "Hindi film music round-up 2014: More misses than hits" (2)

  1. Chandra Sekar said:

    Good one Naren! Pakeezah from Ungli is a personal favorite and its composer Gulraj Singh is a underrated composer. Look forward to a lot more from him in the future. (I love some of his numbers in the Ganaraj Adhiraj album that released a couple of years ago). Bang Bang also had a couple of catchy numbers by Vishal-Shekhar. Didn’t warrant a mention?

    To me Queen and Haider where the 2 albums of the year, Queen-for the sheer variety that Amit packed into it and Queen- for what the combo of Vishal and Gulzar Sa’ab can offer time and again. Loved Gulon Mein Rang Bhare and the shorter version of Aao Na.

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